The Abbotsford Canucks split the weekend series against the top team in the Pacific Division, the Stockton Heat.
After a weak showing on Friday night, the team came out on Sunday evening and capitalized on their chances while Mikey DiPietro kept them in the game with some remarkable saves.
Mikey DiPietro had a heck of a first period.
He made 15 saves and did not allow a goal.
This was his best save of the period. pic.twitter.com/9oL6qaunn8
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) February 28, 2022
The Canucks went on to win 6-2 and got big goals from Sheldon Dries and John Stevens. Dries scored his 28th goal of the year on a night where he jumped back into a tie for the league lead in goals.
Dries has been excellent all season long and when asked about his success this season, he didn’t want to question why he was getting so many goals.
“I’ve been in the right spot at the right time,” said Dries in the postgame availability on Sunday. “You don’t really question it when it’s going right.”
If you were the league leader in power play goals, you wouldn’t question anything either. Dries has played so well this season and is looking to make a mark in the NHL. Dries was asked if after his strong play this season, if he is looking for a chance at the NHL level as the year approaches a conclusion.
“Absolutely, that’s the goal,” said Dries. “Anyone in this league wants to move up. But you can’t really think about the NHL right now. It’s all about being here and doing the right things every day.”
Not only has Dries been an excellent scorer this season, but he has also been a penalty killer and has NHL experience as a killer. Dries told me that he’s always been a penalty killer and likes that to be a key part of his game. Dries killed penalties for the Colorado Avalanche during the 2018-19 season and had one shorthanded goal while averaging a minute of shorthanded time a game in his 40 games played with the Avalanche.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) February 12, 2022
Dries’ offence may be the thing that is popping off for him but he’s been a calming presence in the defensive zone this season and is still killing penalties with Abbotsford. He is an undersized centre who has found a groove and rode the wave all season long.
In his two NHL games this season, Dries has held his own. He posts a 64% Corsi percentage, a 69% control of shots on net and an expected goals-for that sits at 71% on the year. This sample size is too small to truly judge as Dries has only played 19 minutes of NHL action this year.
We’ll wait and see if Dries gets another run in the NHL later this season but he is doing everything in the AHL to make that become a reality.
Now for the injury updates
There were a lot of questions asked to head coach Trent Cull on Sunday night. The team is off on an eastern road swing and Cull is excited about it. He laughed and said that some of his guys are liking the California lifestyle so it’s time to go to eastern Canada for a bit.
Abbotsford will be in Toronto and Montreal for the next 10 days with two games against each of those teams.
Jack Rathbone’s rehabbing of an upper-body injury has been going well. Recovery has been positive after taking a scary hit and lying motionless on the ice for 13 minutes before being taken off on a stretcher.
— Cody Severtson (@CodySevertson) February 17, 2022
Rathbone is expected to join the team in Toronto next Monday and the hope is that he will practice on Monday and Tuesday before returning to the lineup on Wednesday.
As for Jett Woo, who hasn’t played a game in six weeks, he is getting close to returning to the lineup.
“I’m hoping Jett can maybe meet us on the road trip,” said Cull. “We’ll see how that goes. But I’m hoping Jett is a potential player for us at some point here soon.”
As for two other notable injuries, Justin Bailey’s situation may be more complicated as Cull mentioned that Bailey is still just dealing with doctors on what his timeline is. Bailey has not played since February 9th, where he got injured in a scrum after a player on the opposition’s bench swung their stick into Madison Bowey’s torso after he scored a goal.
As for veteran AHL defenceman Ashton Sautner, he is apparently a while away from returning to the lineup after going down just last week with what looked like a lower-body injury.
Abbotsford now takes to the road for four games in eastern Canada before returning home on March 11th to host a weekend series against the Colorado Eagles and a weekday series against the Manitoba Moose.
We’ll keep you up to date with all the Abbotsford Canucks’ news here at CanucksArmy.